Interview of the Month: NRW (11/2017)

Every month, for you, EPWS presents the characteristics and activities of one Member Association.

Read all the previous Interviews with our Members here

Our member for November is the German association Netzwerk Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung NRW.

For Netzwerk Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung NRW (The Women’s & Gender Research Network of North Rhine-Westphalia), Uta C. Schmidt, Ulla Hendrix and Jennifer Niegel, research associates at the Coordination Office, have accepted to answer the EPWS questionnaire.


Contact for this association:
Contact for these members:,,
Association website:


EPWS: If you wanted to describe your association in one sentence, what would you say?

Our network includes academics and institutions engaged in women’s and gender studies in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) (Germany).

EPWS: What are the objectives of your association?

Our main objective is to support academics and institutions engaged in women’s and gender studies in terms of dialogue, exchange and cooperation. Our scope covers higher education institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia, the German federal state with the highest density of such institutions. We provide opportunities for networking – supporting individual scientists and networks. In 2017, 149 professors and 226 non-professorial scientists at 30 higher education institutions are members of our network. Besides that, 6 centers for gender studies, 8 working groups, 3 degree programs in the field of gender, 2 programs in the field of women’s studies and 6 degree programs in the field of gender and diversity are included.

While gender studies are mostly rooted in disciplinary traditions, our network is interdisciplinary in its composition as well as in its prospects of cooperation. Our annual conferences put emphasis on alternating focal topics out of the field of gender studies, being interdisciplinary illuminated. Further annual meetings strengthen networking activities between academics as well as institutions of gender studies.
As a service for our members, we provide continuous information on topics, conferences and job postings in the field of gender studies and gender equality. We also developed several online databases: Our model database of Gender Curricula for Bachelor and Master contains proposals of integrating gender content into 55 subjects ( Further databases provide gender statistics on higher education, equal opportunities projects and childcare in higher education institutions in NRW.

One further objective is conducting own independent studies. One of our major projects is the tri-annual Gender-Report, a publication on ’Gender (in)equality at Universities in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW)‘, which includes statistical trends and practices of gender equality as well as a focus study.

Furthermore, the Coordination Office of the network is editing an interdisciplinary scientific journal – GENDER. Journal for Gender, Culture and Society – and publishing the book series Geschlecht und Gesellschaft (Gender and Society).

“Network members 2011 during the 25th anniversary conference in Paderborn/Germany”
Jahrestagung des Netzwerks Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung NRW in der Universität Paderborn:
25 Jahre Netzwerk Frauenforschung NRW:
Gender und Art – Selbstbilder und Selbstkonzepte in den Kuensten


EPWS: what is the history of The Women’s & Gender Research Network of North Rhine-Westphalia, in a few words?

The Women’s & Gender Research Network NRW emerged during the 1980s out of an association of female academics at universities in North Rhine-Westphalia. It was born out of the criticism concerning gender inequalities and women’s neglected contributions to science, culture and society. Since then, increasing institutionalization was promoted, among others by the NRW federal ministry of education. In the following years, the network expanded and a Coordination Office was installed, that continuously expanded, too, and promoted own research and publishing activities.

EPWS: Could you explain the organization of your association?

The network members elect a scientific advisory board every four years, which elects a speaker and her vice. The board has recently passed its rules of procedure. The network activities are managed and promoted by a Coordination Office, consisting of the director and her vice, six research associates and support staff. The Coordination Office is responsible for organizing meetings and conferences, producing and publishing studies and journals, as well as for maintaining and updating the databases and for continuously providing information for the members.

“Impressions of the annual conference 2016 “Body and Gender””


EPWS: What are its recent achievements?

Our latest Gender-Report 2016 dealt with the gender gap in university medicine. The study comprises an online survey of assistant doctors and interviews of all deans, heads of university hospitals, and equal opportunity representatives. We developed tangible recommendations on how to reduce gender gaps in university medicine.
Recently a study about intersexuality, written by Anike Krämer and Katja Sabisch, has been published.

EPWS: What is your agenda for the coming months?

The editing project Handbuch Interdisziplinäre Geschlechterforschung (Compendium of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies and Gender Research) is promoted by the Coordination Office. While most articles examine main concepts and theories (in German), others cover gender studies and research in European countries and worldwide regions as general overviews (partly in English). Currently you can purchase and download over 60 book articles online ( New content will be continuously uploaded during the next months, the print version is forthcoming.

Four our next Gender-Report, we are also working on a focus study, which will have a closer look on the gender pay gap in higher education. Furthermore, new issues of GENDER journal are forthcoming, e.g. Forced Migration, Asylum, Gender (2/18) and Gender and Higher Education (1/19).

“Coordination Office team”


EPWS: Are you collaborating with other EPWS members?

For many years the Coordination Office of the network has been collaborating with the Center of Excellence Women and Science (CEWS) in different projects.

EPWS: What do you expect from EPWS? In what ways can it help you develop your action?

The EPWS meetings are a good way to connect with other EPWS members. Exchange on good practice can help to learn from each other, on the way to gender equality in academia and to a strengthened gender dimension in science.

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